Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

The National Academy of Public Administration’s Standing Panel on Intergovernmental Systems launched Federalism.us in July 2020 as a convening place for policy makers, researchers, and citizens interested in analyzing and better understanding issues related to federalism, intergovernmental relations, and multilevel democracy. 

American federalism is more than the relationship between the federal government and the 50 states (and D.C.). Resolving America’s social and economic challenges requires us to ask the right questions by understanding the situation down to the local level. Drilling down to the local level often provides a completely different picture (literally) than when we limit ourselves to a state-by-state analysis. 

The Federalism website helps to shape that perspective with its three main sections: an online databook (Significant Features of American Federalism); news items and blogs on issues related to federalism and intergovernmental relations (Intergovernmental Matters); and resource materials on federalism and intergovernmental relations in the U.S. (American Federalism 101).  Members of the Standing Panel, other Academy Fellows, and the Center for Intergovernmental Partnerships’ staff members are responsible for creating the website’s content.  

Significant Features of American Federalism provides open-source data in a uniquely organized and easy-to-use format. The federal, state, and local level data made available through Significant Features makes it easy to explore the various dimensions and inter-relationships in American federalism in a more nuanced and granular manner. It covers four key dimensions of American Federalism:  

  1. Federalism and Intergovernmental Architecture (Institutional Features);  
  1. Federal, State and Local Democracy and Representation (Governance Features);  
  1. Public Sector Performance & Intergovernmental Solutions (Administrative Features); and  
  1. Fiscal Federalism & Intergovernmental Finance (Fiscal Features).  

The Significant Features data portal aims to lower the threshold for public officials, citizens, and scholars to access data so that they can easily engage in basic research on relevant questions related to federalism and intergovernmental relations. It relies on authoritative data sources, including the Census of Population and Housing, the American Community Survey, the Census of Governments, federal budget documents (OMB), and other surveys and data collections. (See more details on the various data sources.) To simplify user analysis, data tables are presented in Excel format. The Data and Research Notes section provides step-by-step instructions. 

Significant Features is also highly accessible, with its data displayed in an online databook organized around four main aspects of American Federalism:  

  1. Institutional Features;  
  1. Governance Features;  
  1. Administrative Features; and  
  1. Fiscal Features. 

Each category contains further thematic sub-sections, including one or more relevant data tables. Data tables include information for federal, state, and local governments. Whenever possible, local-level data are presented by type of local government or on a county-by-county basis. 

Questions or comments about federalism.us or the online data book? Contact Nancy Augustine at naugustine@napawash.org

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